Positive Black Soul is known as one of the first rap and hip-hop groups in the country of the Senegal. Based in Dakar, Senegal, the group began as a collaboration between two members from the Didier Awadi’s Syndicate and King MCs. Didier Soutou Awadi and Doug E. Tee got to together to form the group Positive Blacks Soul known for their use of traditional Senegalese instruments, political rhyming, and mostly Wolof language. The two were originally rivals who competed against each other and were from different neighborhoods. The two eventually performed together instead of against one another, and it was at that moment they realized that they had a lot in common. Positive Black Soul got momentum after their performance at a music festival hosted by the Dakar French Cultural Center. They got noticed by French rapper MC Solaar. The group was asked to open up for him at his show in Dakar and throughout France. The group went on to put out their first album called Boul Fale, and their career took off from there. They received an opportunity to work with Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, which in turn got them a record deal with Mango Records, who Baaba Maal was signed with. The group continued on to gain international acclaim and had the opportunity to work with artists such as American rapper KRS-One, Red Hot organization, Res, Tony Allen, Ray Lema, Baaba Maal, and Archie Shepp.
Hip hop crew Black Noise from the Cape Flats in Cape Town, South African is recognized as one of the crews that began Cape Towns ‘conscious’ hip hop scene. The other, the well known Prophets of Da City. Black Noise started out as a group of survivors from the breakdance era in South Africa. The members were all influenced by hip hop music in some way or another and they would often hang out with each other on the weekends. They eventually began doing performances at schools, malls, and carnivals. Most performances consisted only of breakdancing, but if there was equipment available they would do some beatboxing, Mcing, or rapping. The crew continued to grow and evolve from there. They’ve had members leave and join the group as time has gone on, and today the only remaining original member is Emile Jansen.
Sasha P has many titles. She’s a business woman, lawyer, motivational speaker, musician, and most importantly a Nigerian female rapper. Sasha P is not just any female rapper, she is mostly known as the “The First Lady of Nigerian Hip Hop”. Born Anthonia Yetunde Alabi, Sasha was the youngest of eight children in her family. Her start in music began in Ibadan where she attended the International School Ibadan and later the University of Lagos where she received a bachelor’s degree in law. When Sasha ventured into the hip hop world there were very few female rappers in Nigeria, so “The First Lady of Nigerian Hip Hop” essentially paved the way for others to come. Sasha made a name for herself and has been one of the most prominent female artists in Nigeria ever since. She’s won local and international awards such as the UK’s “Best Female Artist” award in 2009 at the Women In Entertainment Awards and both the “Best Female Video” and “Best Cinematography” at the 2009 SoundCity Video Music Awards. She’s had numerous other accomplishments as well, being the first Nigerian female artists to perform at the World Music Video Awards in October 2008 and the first Nigerian female artists to win “Best Female Award” at MTV Africa Awards. She has had the opportunity to share the stage with numerous artist such as, Boyz II Men, Dru Hill, Rihanna, Diddy, and a few others. Although, in 2013 “The First Lady of Nigerian Hip Hop” decided to step away from the industry to pursue her other career goals, it is safe to say that she has definitely left a lasting mark on the evolution of African hip hop.
Her song entitled Adara is what earned her the Best Female Artist Award at the Women In Entertainment Awards. The song talks about her struggles and anyone who struggles with the issues that come with trying to reach ones goals and dreams in life. The issue of self-doubt and outside opinions and influence is heavily addressed. This particular single is easily relateable to any gender, race, culture, religion, etc. It definitely gives reason for the songs international popularity.
Samuel Bazawale was born in Accra, Ghana in 1982. While growing up he won many awards for his skill as a visual artists, but it was hip hop that eventually captured his heart. He is known to today as Blitz the Ambassador, and has pursued a career as a Ghanian-American hip hop artist. Blitz was first discovered by Hammer of The Last Two a producer for the Ghanian Ace. Intrigued by blitz freestyle abilities, Hammer had him record a verse on the song Deeba, and that’s when Blitz began to make a name for himself. He even received the award for best new artist at the 2000 Ghana Music Awards. After graduating Kent State University Blitz moved to New York to continue his career has a rapper. Blitz started to push the envelope in the rap community. He created a new sound that was meant to change Hip Hop forever. He drew from his own experiences and most importantly his cultural background to create a new sound. Blitz released this new sound in his album Double Consciousness in 2005 under his own label Embassy MVMT. Blitz continues to push the envelope through his music as well as social media and public speaking. He doesn’t just make music for the sake of making it, but to invoke thought and start conversations that need to be had about the many issues that trouble our society. For example in his song Ghetto Plantation, Blitz immediately dives into his views on the prison system and its resemblance to a modern day slave plantation. His lyrics are very direct and he says how he feels right off hand leaving know room for question. The first line in the song says, “ Incarceration is the new plantation, a new kind of slavery, a new foundation”. Blitz doesn’t just stop at voicing his opinion through his music, he also uses social media. One of his latest tweets talks about what he describes as an unfortunate issue of the hip hop industry today. He says,”Hip-Hop has reached the point where only 5 voices matter and everything revolves around them. So much power in such few hands…bad idea”. Blitz goes even further to voice himself through public speaking and the cultivation of discussions on views about different issues that trouble our society. He is currently an artist-in-residence at Duke University and has discussions with other scholars and students at the University. He never shies away from addressing the issue. He says, “For me, I try to discuss as many things that are affecting poor, black and brown people”. Blitz seems to understand that he has been given a platform and he intends to use it to speak on behalf of his people to help them in anyway he can. Blitz wants to evoke change, and he has definitely planted that seed.
Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, AKA is one of South Africa’s biggest mainstream hip hop artists today. He has received many awards and accolades such as, the South African Music Award for Male Artist of the Year, the South African Music Award for Best Street Urban Music Album, and a BET award for best International Act. AKA calls himself the “African Hip Hop Prince”, and according to undercovermillionaies.com AKA says, “I’m trying to bridge the gap between fans of different genres and cultures through a new style of African hip-hop music”. His sophomore album Levels is said to have done just that. Critics have taken note of how AKA incorporated updated production, authentic South African lyrical references, as well as hip hop credibility. Some of his most successful singles from the album were Jealousy, Kontrol, and Congratulate. In his single Congratulate, AKA talks about his road to fame which is a common topic for many rap artists across many cultures. He says:
Starts out with a pipe dream
White T and an ice cream
All day on the MySpace
MJ, trying to buy face
I had to pay dues, had to make moves on faith
Even got booed off stage, trying to put food on plate
Dropped a couple jewels on tape, now we got views on Base
So much, love
Trust fund and Kas’lam
Bad chick in my address and she showing up with that plus one
Through depths and peaks, wolves dressed as sheep
Better protect the key while I pen this acceptance speech (Genius.com)
AKA’s story can be relatable to anyone no matter their culture, but the South African elements are undeniable. There a few phrases and words that are terms used in the South African cultures incorporated in AKA’s song Congratulate. He mentions Kas’lam in the song. This word is used to refer to the “kasi” which is another name for the hood in South Africa. He uses Aw’kuze Kuse as well, which is used very often in South African Hip Hop songs, and means Dance ’til the break of dawn. As for many Hip Hop songs across different cultures, references to popping champagne bottles is often made, and AKA also includes it in Congratulate when referring to JC Le Roux, a South African Champagne.
Congratulate is just one of AKA’s songs that exemplifies how similar hip hop culture is across the globe, and his success and relatability across many cultures can’t be denied either.